1 - Alcohol
Let’s start with the most unsurprising entrant on this list – our old friend alcohol. If you’ve read any of my other skin blogs you’ll know that I don’t have a very high opinion of this type of beverage when it comes to supporting our skin health. If I had to list all the reasons why alcohol is terrible for your skin, I’d be here for quite a while but I’ll start with the basics.
Alcohol is pro-inflammatory, which if you suffer from a condition like acne or eczema, definitely isn’t good news! To compound matters further, alcohol is also what is known as a ‘vasodilator’ which means that it can cause your blood vessels to expand leading to the tell-tale flushed cheeks and blotchy skin that often accompany a night out. If you suffer from rosacea, this can be a huge trigger so be warned!
It also doesn’t help that some of our favourite alcoholic drinks, namely those colourful and enticing cocktails, are also loaded with sugar which, if you’ve read my blog, ‘The bitter truth about sugar and your skin,’ can take a real toll on your complexion! So what can you do if you want to enjoy the occasional drink?
While we’d never endorse alcohol here at A.Vogel, if you do want to have a celebratory drink every now and then there are two main baddies to stay away from – cocktails and all types of wine. Wine of any colour (yes, that includes red wine!) are often high in sugar and often your liver has to work that little bit harder to process it, which places additional pressure on your body! Clear spirits aren’t too great either as they can dehydrate you quite quickly, not to mention the hangover they induce can be quite overwhelming!
2 - Milk
A warm glass of milk before bed is thought to chase restlessness away but it certainly isn’t doing your skin any favours, especially if you’re prone to acne. In my blog, ‘Do dairy products really cause acne?’ you’ll know that studies have already described milk as the ‘perfect food for acne1’ as it often contains a cocktail of pro-inflammatory hormones and antibiotics which can increase your production of sebum oil.
The real problem with milk is that, unlike alcoholic, most of us consume it on a daily basis. We mix it in with our teas and coffees and, of course, our breakfast cereals! So, how can we just cut it out of our diets?
I’m not a massive fan of simply cutting foods out of your diet and neither is our Nutritionist Emma. That’s why, rather than eliminating all traces of milk and dairy from your everyday routine, I’m going to use Emma’s favourite word – moderation. If you’re continuously adding milk to your daily drink, lashing it on top of your cereal and then tucking into dairy-heavy meals, then sooner or later, the effects will make themselves known.
That’s why it can’t hurt to start introducing dairy-free alternatives into your daily routine. Instead of adding milk to all your teas and coffees, why not try brown rice milk, which has a similar taste? Or jazz up your morning bowl of cereal with some sweet, refreshing almond milk.
3 – Fizzy drinks
It’s not exactly a secret that fizzy drinks are loaded with sugar. It’s thought that one can of coke can contain as much as 39g of sugar – that’s more than the daily recommended amount for men and women! But, aside from the obvious problems that sugar brings, how else do fizzy drinks affect your skin?
Well, the news isn’t good as recent studies have found that drinking too many fizzy drinks may shorten your telomeres.2 What exactly are your telomeres? Telomeres can dictate how well your cells are able to regenerate and are located at the ends of your chromosomes. Shortened telomeres can be a precursor to premature ageing, which will ultimately affect your skin, making you more prone to wrinkles and fine lines.
It also doesn’t help that drinking fizzy drinks, even carbonated water, can enhance your food cravings, making you more likely to binge on empty carbohydrates and sugary foods. Are there any alternatives to fizzy drinks though? This is tricky as carbonating any drink will produce similar effects and diet options definitely don’t live up to their promise. My advice would be to stick to options that haven’t been carbonated. Always go for still water over fizzy and try to keep an eye on how much you are drinking – definitely no more than two glasses a day!
4 – Caffeinated drinks
It might not surprise you to learn that caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee have made it onto this list. Not only can such drinks sometimes have a diuretic effect, coffee, the king of caffeinated beverages, often contains acrylamide, a chemical that may potentially cause some upset with your skin as well as other areas of your body.3
It also doesn’t help that these types of drinks can have a more indirect impact on your skin by affecting other areas of your body. Caffeine isn’t exactly good for your sleep patterns and some people are still surprised by how long it can linger in your body, with some studies finding that it can take 3-5 hours just to eliminate half of the drug from your system!4 If your caffeine intake is impacting your sleep, you can be sure you will see the results on your skin!
Another point against caffeine is that caffeinated beverages are often served with two things – milk and sugar! If you enjoy sipping on seasonal lattes or cappuccinos, the sugar content in these drinks can be astronomical – did you know that some figures estimate that a Starbucks Caramel Macchiatto may contain as much as 42g of sugar? That’s the equivalent of 11 teaspoons!
If you are going to drink a caffeinated beverage, my advice would be to limit your intake to the morning to avoid any disruptions to your sleep and try to keep an eye on the sugar content. Now you might be thinking a simple way to avoid this problem would be to switch to decaff but not so fast!
Most high-street decaf coffees can be just has harmful as the caffeinated ones due to the way in which they are processed.5 That’s why I’d recommend a more natural, caffeine-free alternative like our Bambu Coffee Substitute. One of Alfred Vogel’s original recipes, this brew tastes very similar to coffee but is prepared using more natural ingredients such as organic chicory, Turkish figs and malted barley!
5 –Sports drinks
Sport or energy drinks are all the rage if you’re trying to keep fit but, as our Nutritionist Emma explored in her blog, ‘Are sports drinks really better for you?’ these beverages have some serious hang-ups. Let’s start with their content of sugar – typical energy drinks like Lucozade are not only carbonated, they also contain high amounts of sugar. Even drinks like Lucozade Sport or Powerade that claim to be ‘sugar-free’ or low in sugar are normally loaded with synthetic sweeteners and colourings, such as aspartame.
There really isn’t a substitute for water when it comes to working out and most of us don’t really require more than this unless we’re doing a particularly intense session where we’re rapidly losing electrolytes – trace minerals than can help our body to retain water. In this case, it might be worth turning to something which can give us these electrolytes but without the sugar and sweeteners!
That’s why I’d suggest our Balance Mineral Drink. This product helps to rehydrate your body, fighting pesky symptoms like fatigue, and providing you with plenty of electrolytes, like potassium and magnesium, to help support your muscles and joints. It’s easy to take – simply mix with a little water or add into your post-gym smoothie! It also has a pleasant strawberry taste derived from natural flavourings!